First Strike Against A 2021 PBL Season
Posted April 12, 2021
On April 6, 2021 the Province of Alberta announced that due to increasing Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations, mainly attributed to the variants of the virus, we would be moving back into Step 1. This of course is bad news for adult sports in the province, with leagues like the Powerline Baseball League hoping to see some sort of season in 2021.
According to the Government of Alberta website "Adult group physical activities, including team sports, fitness classes and training sessions, are prohibited or restricted across Alberta." The website, which was revised on February 8th 2021, goes on to list the following restrictions:
- Outdoor team sports and group activities where 2 metre distancing cannot be maintained at all times (such as shinny, tag and pick-up hockey) are prohibited.
- Outdoor group physical activity must be limited to 10 people or fewer.
- Keeping the activity to members of the same household is strongly recommended.
- Members of different households must maintain 2 metre distancing at all times.
- Outdoor recreation amenities can be open to public access unless specifically closed by public health order.
- This includes outdoor skating rinks, sledding hills and Nordic ski areas.
- More than 10 people may use an outdoor recreation amenity at the same time (for example, public access to a local rink) as long as physical distancing is maintained between households.
This section of the website was not updated on April 6th, April 7th or April 9th like other sections of the website due to confusion between guidelines issued in a press conference and guidelines stated on the website. Currently, it is unclear if an adult baseball team can gather a group of 10 players on a field if proper distancing is maintained to say take ground balls, take batting practice or throw a bullpen session. What is clear however, is there are currently no games permitted, either with youth sports or adult sports.
The PBL Executive had planned their annual Spring Meeting for March 30, 2021. However, as the Province held off on moving from Stage 2 to Stage 3 at the time, PBL President Stephen Hrabec informed the PBL teams that the meeting would be postponed until there was a clearer picture of when adult sports can return and a plan for a season could happen. Until then, there is no point coming together to try and guess what restrictions might be and when they will be loosened.
With the timetable for a possible PBL season likely getting pushed back, the league will need to work with teams to find possible season scenarios that will work for 2021. It is expected that the league will choose a deadline for the start of a season that will allow for at least six games perhaps with a July 1 start date. If adult sports are not able to return until after July 1, it is likely that the league will not see a season for the second consecutive year. Dates will need be negotiated with the teams, as usually the league is wrapping up the regular season in the first week of July with four teams playing another month or so in the best of three PBL Semi-Finals and best of three PBL Championship Series. Like in 2020, pushback for a season starting in July and ending in mid-August will likely come by way of summer vacations and harvest time for players in the league.
Another issue that might arise will be the willingness of local municipalities to ease local restrictions such as field usage for sports. There is already word that the Town of Tofield has not
Should the PBL not operate in 2021, it will be the first time since World War 2 that not only a single season, but consecutive seasons, were lost. It would also mean that the league bouncing back in 2022 will be that much more challenging.
There is a slight glimmer of hope though as Baseball Alberta will see minor baseball (18 and younger) be able to get on a field immediately for 10 person practices.